Born Peter Schwarze in Leipzig, the artist Blinky Palermo (1943 – 1977) grew up as Peter Heisterkamp after his adoptive parents. While studying at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf under Joseph Beuys, Palermo began using a pseudonym borrowed from the name of an American boxing promoter and organized crime figure to whom he supposedly bore a resemblance. Palermo’s art is characterized by a colorful style of geometric abstraction in which critics have seen the influence of Modernist painters such as Piet Mondrian, Minimalists such as Ellsworth Kelly, and Conceptual artists such as Sol LeWitt.
Palermo worked with a variety of materials in his work. From 1966 to 1972 he created a series of works called Stoffbilder, or Fabric Pictures. These works consisted of strips of store-bought fabric that were machine sewn by others and attached to a stretcher. He also experimented with sculptural paintings featuring irregularly-shaped canvases. During the late 1960s, Palermo created a number of site-specific wall drawings and murals in which his geometric forms echoed and engaged with the architecture of the space. Beginning in 1972, Palermo executed a series of Metallbilder, or Metal Pictures, which he painted in acrylics on steel or aluminum supports. Many of these works were completed in New York, where Palermo had set up a studio in 1973 after visiting the city with fellow artist Gerhard Richter a few years earlier.
Palermo’s career was cut short by his untimely death in 1977 at the age of 33. During his brief career, Palermo created a number of graphic works in addition to his paintings and works in other media. Palermo’s portfolios and books include Vier Prototypen (1970), a portfolio of four screenprints, and Heinz Gappmayr visuelle Gedichte Palermo fünf Miniaturen (1972), a book featuring small foil embossings, and Miniaturen II (1975). Other noteworthy portfolios created by Palermo include 12 Original Lithographien (1970), which features lithographs related to the wall drawings he created for a 1968 exhibition at Galerie Heiner Friedrich in Munich.
In 2011, the first American retrospective of Palermo’s work was held at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C.
Books by Blinky Palermo available from Boreas Fine Art:
Palermo, Blinky. Miniaturen II. [ Munich ] : Galerie Heiner Friedrich. 1975.
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